Dalrymple relates that in Augy Hayter’s Fit to Be Tied,
a patient who has escaped from an asylum returns to his former office, where he was the boss, and advertises for an employee. A young man applies, but in the middle of his interview a doctor (described as having ‘the arrogance of insecurity’) and a nurse arrive to haul him back to the asylum.
The nurse returns
to the office to reassure the applicant, who asks, ‘Is it true he is being given shock treatment?’ The nurse replies that it is and it isn’t; he goes through the motions of having it, but the apparatus has been disabled so that no electricity goes through his brain. The doctor does not know this but is satisfied with the result.
The play, says Dalrymple,
seems to have been inspired by the commonly repeated story of the electroconvulsive therapy clinic in which the machine had broken down but nobody noticed: to which one can only say they cannot have been very observant.